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Being an early pensioner at 46 and travelling in developing countries for possibly the rest of my life I'm looking for a source of income that keeps me going for as long as I favour. Since my starting capital is healthy but not enormous I can only keep doing so if my annual income is big enough right from the start, remains healthy and predictable for the unforeseen future through all kinds of economic climates, and beats the average inflation rate in developing countries; the biggest countries where I'm likely to spend most of my time being the most influential in my calculations.
In my previous life I've been quite successful with options trading but surprisingly much less so with stock picking or even ETF picking. But since market timing and trading are not the kind of thing I want to do for the rest of my life (if possible at all when travelling) I had to look for an alternative. After 2 years of possibly reading thousands of articles about asset allocation and portfolio building I fell in love with the utter simplicity, diversity and results of Harry Browne's 1989 version of the Permanent Portfolio (not the mutual fund, ETF or Craig Rowland versions though) and I learned a lot about bonds, commodities, rebalancing, the power of doing nothing and most important of all: the fact that we absolutely have no clue what will happen and make or break markets in the remote or even near future. However, I had to come to the conclusion that the impressive results (9% per year over a 43 year time span with only 4 down years, a maximum draw of an incredible 4% in 1981 and extremely low volatility) probably wouldn't beat developing world inflation rates in the long run, meaning that I would have to touch principle. Since I have no idea whether I will die tomorrow, at 50, 75 or 100 that doesn't seem to be a clever plan as I would very likely run out of money before I run out of vital breath.
I tried modifying the Permanent Portfolio in various ways to spice up results, the most interesting being changing allocation shares, no rebalancing, replacing a US market fund by individual dividend growth stocks so adding dividends to capital appreciation, replacing individual US long term treasury bonds by individual long term investment grade sovereign emerging market bonds denominated in local currencies, adding other commodities to gold for seasonal trading, and replacing cash by emerging market CDs, again denominated in local currencies to make use of changing exchange rates. But then after some unexpected moves on more than one of these fronts I started thinking how predictable this all would become in the future and whether I really needed these risks. The answer was a firm No. But the exercise had been great.
After discovering SeekingAlpha and getting more and more interested in dividend growth stocks and hedging risks I started thinking about the best way to increase income through dividends for an unusual big part of my portfolio and hedge the income risks very aggressively with just a tiny part of the portfolio. Right now I'm in the phase of identifying the best dividend growth stocks for a kind of Buy & Die portfolio (buying stocks without any intention to sell unless there's an extreme situation, and just harvesting dividends to support my life style). And besides that I'm trying to learn as much as possible about hedging risks, costs and rewards while rethinking the value of the Permanent Portfolio on my life style as buying only once, an annual rebalance action lasting less than an hour and never ever reading about individual companies, ETFs, sectors, markets or even the whole economy for the rest of my life is extremely enticing as well.
The second path I'm following is extremely different although again inspired by the Permanent Portfolio but also by momentum strategies, leverage, asset allocation and hedging outside the momentum portfolio. I want my momentum portfolio ideally to be ever lasting as not to end up rethinking my strategy after every single market dip. Now that I've designed such a portfolio including hedges, et cetera, I invest every month in the 3 best ETFs over a 3 month period that are on my list. So far, so good and if I ever find the time to write and share about the selection process of building a multi asset momentum portfolio layer by layer I would love to do so.
And with that I'm at the biggest mistake I made since deciding to start travelling: I thought time was all I had. Well, that may be true but somehow it's incredibly hard to find!
Gaudi Schneider is currently a stay-at-home dad with previous exposure to portfolio management and derivatives. Interests include investment strategies and concepts of portfolio construction, as well as back-testing of systematic strategies.
My profession is in biomedical research. I have over 25 years experience investing and trading stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and futures in most asset classes, including volatility. I have a long-standing interest in algorithmic trading strategies. Over the last several years, we have worked towards developing and in some cases deploying with real money the strategies we have developed.
Petros Polimenakos, Msc.
Economist, Investor, Business Strategist.
Msc in Management / Logistics by Florida Institute of Technology, USA.
Bsc in Economics by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.